Early History, Recent History

Lady Nelson, Binalong Bay, Tasmania

Lady Nelson, Binalong Bay, Tasmania

Tobias Furneaux a Captain, navigator and explorer was born on  the 21 August 1735 at the family estate, Swilly, near Plymouth, Devon, England. Joining the Royal Navy in February 1755 , he ascended through the ranks to become Captain of H.M.S. Adventure on 29th November 1771 , which was under the overall command of  Captain James Cook (1728-1779) who had the instructions “to discover and obtain a complete knowledge of the Land and Islands supposed to be situated in the Southern Hemisphere”, when he undertook The Great Antarctic Expedition of 1772-1775.

The expedition sailed from Plymouth in July 1772, and then headed east and south. The two ships were separated in fog on the 8th February 1773 and Adventure made for the agreed rendezvous, Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand. En route Furneaux directed his course for Van Dieman’s Land, sighting South West Cape on the 9th March he subsquently layoff Bruny Island from the 11th March 1773 “wooding and watering”, naming this area as Adventure Bay. Sailing north along the east coast of Tasmania he named St Patrick’s Head, St Helens Point, the Bay of Fires and Eddystone Point.When sailing between St Helens point and Eddystone Point, Furneaux believed the area to be densely populated due to the number of campfires he observed, thus he named the area the Bay of Fires.

Meanwhile from the beaches and inlets of the Bay of Fires, and no doubt from other coastal locations along the east coast of Van Dieman’s Land, indigenous Australians observed the passing of this flotilla, little knowing what would be the massive impacts and consquences for their families, traditions and culture in the years to come. Indigenous tribes who frequented this area, known by them as Larapuna, the meeting place were the Panpe-kanner, Leener-rerter and Pinter-rairer family groups come together. Today there are a number of known Aboriginal middens, shell and burial sites, which have been located in some of the sand dunes within the Bay of Fires; locals and visitors to these areas are asked to take care not to disturb these important cultural sites which are protected by law.

Adventure and Resolution where reunited in New Zealand in May 1773, arriving home in Spithead, England in July 1774. George Robertson, Captain of the Dolpin described Furneaux as “a Gentele Agreeable well behaved goodman and very humain to all the ships company”. The Furneaux Islands in Bass Strait, named by Cook, commerate him for his part in The Great Antartic Expedition of 1772-1775. A copy of Furneaux’s portrait is housed in Parliament House Canberra, the original painting by James Northcote being in Banbury, England.

With the subsquent settlement of Launceston in March 1806 and surrounding regions in later years by immigrants and convicts from Europe, it wasn’t long before these settlers established the coastal fishing village of St Helens and surrounding districts.

What was originally was a sheep farm, later became known as Boat Harbour, and was subsequently renamed Binalong Bay. Thus, “the bay” was set to develop intially as a small fishing village and then eventually into one of the Tasmania’s and now the World’s premier holiday destinations. In the late 1940-50s, there was intially only some ten-twenty small wooden slatted shacks,  located along the foreshore, opposite the boat ramp on the Main Road and at the eastern side of the Binalong Bay hill, known today as Hilltop Drive and Bay View Road. These three roadways contain the last remaining original shacks, a number of which have recently been renovated due to there age, basic amentites and small living spaces.

In the early days of settlement, sheep farming, fishing, timber cutting and the transporting of these commodities where the main economic activities. Evidence of the local railway which ended at the gultch, the small Binalong Bay harbour, jetty and boat ramp, where you can observe the large concrete and stone sea wall from which timber and stock where loaded onto ships for transport to Launceston, Hobart or Melbourne.

Subsquently as each decade passed new streets were or are being constructed; so from east to west you may observe the various architectural styles and building materials of shacks and beach houses from the 50s-60s-70s-80s-90s and today.

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Binalong Bay

Binalong Bay is a small coastal town, a 15 minute drive from St Helens and a 2.5 hours drive from Launceston.

A popular place to visit and a holiday destination for many Tasmanians, mainlanders and international visitors alike, there are approximately 200 shacks and some 100 permanent residents, who have either retired there or have settled into a relaxing lifestyle, combining both work and leisure.

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